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Out Loud: The Public Face for Gay Rights in America

Joe Solmonese (COM’87), president of the Human Rights Campaign, speaks to BU students about the accomplishments of the LGBT community


Click here to watch Joe Solmonese on BUniverse.

Joe Solmonese (COM’87), president of the Human Rights Campaign,the nation’s largest political network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, andtransgender (LGBT) equality in the United States, speaks to BostonUniversity students about the accomplishments of the LGBT communityduring the last two decades. Solmonese reflects on what it was like tobe a gay college student during the height of the Reagan administrationand the AIDS crisis. “Not only were there no LGBT groups on campus, but there was only one out gay guy,” he says. “And it wasn’t me.”

Two decades later, he says, the LGBT community has made enormousstrides, both on and off BU’s campus, particularly in the past fouryears. “The 1990s and early 2000s were largely defensive eras,” hesays. “We were fighting against federal marriage amendments and fighting for hate crime legislation. But we’ve since entered an age where we can advance more proactive agendas.”

Solmonese encourages members of the LGBT community to come out to theirfamilies, friends, and colleagues. “We must be out and proud,” he says,“because every time one of us comes out, it moves public opinion. Wemust erase the hatred in this country.”

October 23, 2008, 4 p.m.
Howard Thurman Center

About the speaker:

Joe Solmonesebecame the president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’slargest political network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender(GLBT) equality in the United States, in 2005. He is at the forefrontof the gay rights movement. In the past year alone, he has appeared onnational television to question Democratic presidential candidatesHillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the issue of marriage equality,hosted a weekly GLBT-themed show on XM Satellite Radio, and gone head-to-head with Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.

A native of Attleboro, Massachusetts, Solmonese lives in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication in 1987 with a bachelor of science in communications. He is the former chief executive officer of EMILY’s List,one of the nation’s prominent Democratic political action committees,which aims to help elect progressive, prochoice female candidates tooffice.

Solmonese traces his interest in politics to his senior year at BU, when he interned in the scheduling office of Michael Dukakis, then governor of Massachusetts. He later campaigned for Barney Frank during the Bay State Democrat’s 1990 congressional bid.

As HRC president, Solmonese lobbies politicians on Capitol Hill andtravels across the country to speak on matters of social justice,marriage equality, health-care benefits, and hate crime legislation.


3 Comments on Out Loud: The Public Face for Gay Rights in America

  • Anonymous on 01.06.2009 at 10:54 pm

    Some disagree ....

    Say what you want, but there are many bisexual and especially transgender people who want nothing to do with either Solmonese or his Human Rights Campaign (we’re not human enough to expect the same rights). He’s the product of entitlement — a privileged individual who sees his biggest fight being flexing his individual muscle to punish the Obama Administration over their choice of Rick Warren as invocation speaker.

    For the record, I’m not a real big fan of Warren … but he’s not the abomination Joe & Co. are making him out to be.

    Nevertheless, it says something about how Joe and his privileged folk at his organization expect (if not outright demand) marriage rights now, even before some within the very communities they purport to represent are unemployed and unemployable (like this writer). HRC’s own practices are a perfect exemple of why corporate America feels no need to be expansive in their hiring: if gay and lesbian groups don’t want to hire these people, then certainly that provides us precedent to follow!

    Solmonese is an exemplar of why the upcoming class warfare must occur. Someday, when we unwashed, uneducated and unrelenting throng are at your gates, you’ll know why! We unwashed, uneducated and unwanted will also be unrelenting!

    In the meantime, enjoy your halcyon days!

  • Borgy Anderson (Instructor) on 04.29.2010 at 4:29 am


    Thanks for the informative articles. The issue of homosexual behavior has had a lot of publicity of late. Many homosexuals are “coming out” and openly declaring their homosexuality.Some church leaders are giving their blessing to homosexual relationships, homosexual church members and even homosexual ministers. But other christians still against in homosexual. For them it is a sin. It was their choice for being like that. Another good and informative articles i found about gay manual. You may check it out at pdfph.com.

  • sally fisher on 07.15.2010 at 1:31 pm

    I think what solmonese is doing is great. The guy above me sounds like the anti 13th ammendment slaves (yes there were some) that were so brainwashed into their role that they actually believed that black ppl had no place other than slavery. The only problem I could ever see with gays is when they try to “turn” younger, more impressionable kids. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for LGBT rights, it’s just that I think their line of thinking is a slippery slope similar to those who have impulsive urges to modify their bodies, and consequently end up ruining them. Even for the types of gays that try to get sex change operations, I wouldn’t care if it would make the person genuinely feel more in harmony with themselves. However, the issue is of whether they will feel that same way in a few years, or even a few months. When people get tattoos and piercings, sometimes they regret them when they’re older because they no longer have the same mindset that they did, or are simply sick of it. Unless it’s a necessary operation (implants for

    , etc..), we already have seen many cases where elective surgeries lead to an addiction. I’m just afraid that LGBT people might be going down this same path by being so eager to undergo an operation. All I’m asking is that they try to do everything in their power to be comfortable and accepting of the way they were made before they decide to go get an operation.

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